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Stanford, Missouri State highlight Gonzaga women’s basketball nonconference schedule

UPDATED: Thu., Aug. 29, 2019

Gonzaga head coach Lisa Fortier watches her team during a practice on Monday, July 29, 2019, at The Volkar Center for Athletic Achievement. (Tyler Tjomsland / The Spokesman-Review)
Gonzaga head coach Lisa Fortier watches her team during a practice on Monday, July 29, 2019, at The Volkar Center for Athletic Achievement. (Tyler Tjomsland / The Spokesman-Review)

There’s nothing like variety, and the Gonzaga women will get plenty in this year’s nonconference schedule.

The Zags will face teams from eight conferences, including the Pac-12, Atlantic 10 and Mountain West.

“There is a great competitive balance, as well as some challenging road trips,” coach Lisa Fortier said Thursday, after the complete schedule was announced.

“I believe throughout this part of our schedule we are going to learn a lot about our team and prepare ourselves for the conference season,” Fortier added.

The biggest home game will be on Dec. 20, when GU faces Missouri State. Last year, the Zags defeated the Lady Bears 70-67, but MSU went on to win 11 straight games, the Missouri Valley Conference title and reach the NCAA Sweet 16 for the fourth time in school history.

“They’re a very strong program,” said Fortier, who’s going into her sixth season as head coach.

The season will open with a home exhibition game on Nov. 2 against Warner Pacific, an NAIA school from Portland. The regular season kicks off on Nov. 10 at home against Cal State Bakersfield; it’s the first meeting between the schools.

Four days later, the Bulldogs welcome Tennessee Martin out of the Ohio Valley Conference in the second meeting between the programs. GU beat UT-Martin 91-54 in the Preseason WNIT in 2013.

The biggest nonconference game will be on the road, Nov. 17 against Stanford. Last year, GU knocked off the seventh-ranked Cardinal 79-73 in Spokane, a game that helped the Zags toward the best start in program history.

GU went on to finish 29-5, winning the West Coast Conference regular-season title and reaching the second round of the NCAA Tournament.

Gonzaga is back home on Nov. 22 for its 47th meeting against Eastern Washington, then heads to Estero, Florida, for the three-game Gulf Coast Showcase from Nov. 29 to Dec. 1. The Zags open against Dayton of the Atlantic 10.

The Zags will face either Middle Tennessee or Auburn in the second game of the tournament. Arizona State, Maine, Drake and Purdue are all on the other side of the bracket.

GU is on the road Dec. 5 against Montana State, a program the Zags have beaten in six straight games.

Three days later, they’ll be in Pullman to face Washington State for the 29th time. Gonzaga is on a three-game win streak against the Cougars, including a 76-53 victory a season ago in Spokane.

Gonzaga returns to The Kennel on Dec. 14. to host Texas Southern out of the Southwestern Athletic Conference.

Perhaps the most intriguing game comes on Dec. 17, when GU visits a Wyoming team that went 25-9 last year. The Cowgirls have won at least 20 games for three consecutive seasons.

GU opens WCC action on Dec. 29 at home against Portland.

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